LitART CLICK! 5 Ways to Promote SEL Through Classroom Management

Effective classroom management and promoting social emotional learning are two important goals for every after school program.  The LitART approach to SEL (social emotional learning) and classroom management focuses on creating a great learning atmosphere, cultivating positive relationships with students, and providing engaging learning experiences. We present five classroom management strategies to point you in the right direction for supporting SEL after school.

You may have heard about character education, Positive Behavioral
Supports, or the growth mindset. These and other ideas attest to the growing interest in helping students learn more than academics.  Developing social emotional skills is essential for personal happiness and life success.

More Than Academics

Classroom leaders encounter an array of behaviors ranging from put downs, interruptions, tardiness, saying mean things, wasting time, avoiding activities, destroying materials, talking out of turn, to more serious issues such as bullying and physical or emotional harassment.  Each of these challenging behaviors offers real life opportunities to teach social emotional skills.  How can we break the cycle of the same students getting in trouble for the same things over and over?

More Than Discipline

The reason so many character education, behavioral modification, and classroom management systems fail to help students grow socially or emotionally is that they focus on short term change. Further, they often resort to artificial and out of context methods that simply do not transfer to real life contexts. In real life, students make hundreds of decisions everyday without an adult present. What will they choose when there is no reward or punishment provided? What will they do
when no adult is nearby to admonish or praise the choice?

LitART CLICK! is a collection of strategies and activities designed to provide after school programs a classroom management system that promotes authentic social emotional learning.


The Problem With Short Term Thinking

Strategy 1: Use Attention Getters

LitART features lively learning experiences that emphasize student interactions. The ability to quickly and confidently bring the group back to order is essential. Develop a set of Attention Getters to use when you need the attention of the whole group. Here are two ideas that work well in most after school settings.

1. If you can hear me clap once…
Watch and listen for all students to clap. Wait a few
moments and say, if you can hear me clap twice.

2. Everybody say mmm…
Wait for the “mmm” to spread to each student in the class.
Students who weren’t listening will get the idea fast.

“The greatest act of love is to pay attention."
Diane Sawyer

Strategy 2: Use Celebrations

LitART uses brief celebrations throughout the session to recognize students and simultaneously add fun energy to the group. Find the ones that work best for your class or make up your own!  Here are two examples taken from LitART CLICK!

1. Three claps for… clap three times.

2. Fireworks for… clap once, and then erupt
hands over heads like fireworks.

“We believe in celebrations both big and small."
Kate Spade

Strategy 3:  Go Beyond Hand Raising to Select Students to Participate.

A variety of student selection strategies increase participation. Use different selection strategies to make sure all students get an equal chance to answer questions, participate in activities, and are otherwise involved in classroom events.  Here is one example found in LitART.

Name Cards
To make Name Cards, prepare an index card with the name of each student. Instead of having students raise their hands, use the next Name Card to select a student to participate. Progress through the cards one-by-one to ensure everyone gets an equal number of turns.

“Mark it down. No involvement, no commitment."
Stephen Covey

Strategy 4: Use a Variety of Sharing Strategies

Sharing strategies are used to increase language interactions, build relationships, and share ideas among students.  Here is one example taken from LitART CLICK!

Sharing Museum
Ask students to place their work face up on their desks.
When you say the museum is open, students act like the
classroom is a museum. They are welcome to walk around
and look at what is on display. Like in a museum, students
should not touch the “artwork” and should use quiet
voices. After a few minutes say the museum is closing.

“A joy that is shared is a joy made double."

Strategy 5:  Make the Most of the Environment 

The classroom environment should support independence and be organized, orderly, safe, and inviting. After school programs operate in a wide range of settings including cafeterias, classrooms, libraries, computer labs, gyms and outdoors. Each setting presents advantages and challenges. Make the most of your space using four steps for creating a positive classroom environment.  Here is the first step according to LitART CLICK!

1. Establish a Room Plan
Consider the best way to arrange the space you have available.
When possible, organize seats into small groups or pods. Designate
a place for backpacks. Create a place for performing or presenting.
To the extent possible, organize the setting so students can easily
see any visuals you display. Make sure students have enough
personal space and that you can easily move around the space.

“Your classroom environment speaks to your students before you utter a single
word. What is your classroom saying?"

Effective classroom management and promoting social emotional learning are two important goals for every after school program.  You can find more ideas in LitART CLICK! which is part of the LitART START Training Guide for After School Leaders.